One morning last week, news anchors Jim Donovan and Rahel Solomon of Philadelphia's CBS affiliate show Eyewitness News This Morning decided to take the Paqui #OneChipChallenge. It's quite the punishing task, as anxious consumers film themselves trying to stomach the hideously spicy Carolina Reaper Chip.
In other words, it's a task that's designed to decimate the vulnerable and make a spectacle out of their suffering. Hell, it's made newscasters throw up on live television. Donovan and Solomon had been inclined to try the challenge out after seeing Shaquille O'Neal brave it without wincing.
In the clip, Solomon warns Donovan that she's Ethiopian and, as a result, has had a high spice tolerance wired into her from an early age. You can probably guess what happens next, but it's still satisfying to watch: Once Donovan bites into the chip, he begins to writhe in agony. His face becomes a canvas of discomfort, while Solomon remains deliriously sweat-free. She offers him water and milk. She calmly asks if he needs a medic.
Solomon has since gone viral for her deft, graceful handling of the challenge that has incapacitated so many, though she certainly didn't expect to become mildly famous.
"It tasted like a single chip with every spice you've ever tasted all thrown on there,” Solomon told MUNCHIES over email on Tuesday. "I wouldn't exactly call it tasty, or something I'd reach for when looking for a snack, but the challenge was fun! It was so hot though—you could feel the burn in your throat and that wasn't a feeling I particularly enjoyed.” (Jeff Day, the Brand Manager for Paqui manufacturer Amply Snack Brands, commended Solomon for her "almost super-human spice tolerance.")
She’s found it pretty hilarious that so many have driven pleasure from watching Donovan suffer, which some have attributed to his melanin deficiency.
"I think I'm a lot more accustomed to spicy foods because, as I mentioned in the video, my family is Ethiopian, so I grew up eating a lot of spicy foods,” Solomon said. "This was one of the more controversial elements of the video. I think some watching thought I was implying that everyone who is Ethiopian or African automatically loves spicy foods, which is of course not true. But I do think an exposure to spicy foods at a young age and throughout your life helps.”
You've got to feel for Donovan, so cruelly reduced to the laughing stock of the internet. "I really can’t describe the chip’s taste,” Donovan wrote MUNCHIES on Tuesday. "Perhaps that’s because the inside of my mouth was on fire within seconds of eating it!"
Unable to describe the taste, Donovan instead recounted a burning sensation on his lips, searing pain in his mouth, near-instant heartburn, and a rash on his wrist that developed the second his skin made contact with the chip's “chili dust.”
"I was merely in survival mode,” he said. "My Irish taste buds aren’t suited for such things.”